Teen organizes anti-bullying event Sunday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Eighth-grader Megan Braun isn’t backing down to bullies. In fact, she’s standing up and inviting others to stand with her.
The 13-year-old North Rowan student has organized an anti-bullying event set for Sunday at 7 p.m. at the downtown Salisbury Bell Tower.
“I picked bullying as the topic because I was bullied terribly two years ago and really all through middle school,” Braun said. “I understand firsthand how people that are being bullied feel.”
Braun said the idea for the vigil stemmed from the National Voices for Equality Education and Enlightenment, a national organization that works to raise awareness about bullying.
“I just want people to know how serious bullying really is and that if they see it happening they should do something about it,” she said. “The whole idea is to teach people to not be bystanders.”
Angie Fleming, the academically and intellectually gifted teacher at North Middle, said she’s proud to see Braun’s strong character in action.
“She’s an outgoing young lady that cares deeply about making positive difference in her community and the world,” Fleming said. “This project about bullying awareness touches her heart deeply because she has been bullied.”
Braun has been working for about a month to secure speakers for the candlelight vigil, dubbed “Beacons Against Bullying.”
Each speaker will be reading a story about a victim of bullying and then talking about their own experiences with bullies.
Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten will be on hand during the event.
“I think it is outstanding that an eighth-grade student will stand up for a cause they believe in and get involved. She has shown a great amount of initiative with her project,” he said. “When she asked me to speak I felt honored.”
Auten said he’ll talk about how the community can get involved to stop bullying.
Braun, the reigning Junior Elite Miss North Carolina, said Miss Rowan County Elizabeth Safrit, the Rev. Curtis Goforth, Deputy Alan Amerson, therapist Angie Kauffman and Dr. Lane Graham will also be speaking.
Braun said she believes Graham can offer a unique perspective since she is both a teacher at Cleveland Elementary and a karate instructor.
“I got him because he is on the self-defense side and a teacher, so he really sees both sides,” she said.
Braun said she began taking karate with Graham to learn self defense after being bullied.
Braun will also sing “Amazing Grace” before the candles are lit. Once the candles light up, she said silence will take over
“It’s basically going to be a time for prayers and a time to remember all those who have been affected by bullying,” she said.
In conjuction with the vigil, Braun has also created a cookbook with 181 recipes.
She spent five months gathering a variety of recipes from appetizers to beverages.
The cookbook is available for $10, with the proceeds going to benefit the National Voice of Equality Education and Enlightenment.
To order a cookbook, email laurab1218@carolina.rr.com.
“It’s very impressive that a middle school student took on such a monumental project,” Fleming said. “I mean she came up with the idea herself and she put it all together, that’s something a lot of adults would hesitate to do.”
Braun asked people to bring a chair or towel to sit on during the gathering.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.